Industrial Designer vs. Mechanical Engineer

Can an Industrial Desinger with experience handle developing a product from concept through to manufacture by them selves, or do you have to hire a Mechanical Engineer as well to assist in the product development and at what product development stage do you need to hire a Mechanical Engineer?


in a caged death match, i choose the engineer. mechanical pencils and slide rules make better weapons.

Like Bryce said, it depends on your product.

Currently, I’m designing lighting fixtures. I have a mechanical engineer look at my drawings, but I wouldn’t have to. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion if one is available.

When I was looking for work straight out of university, I was very surprised how little engineers were involved with some projects. Many times I heard of a core technology that was engineered already, but the designers created the aesthetic of the product, worked out the interface, drew the technical drawings for the molds, speced plastic and toured the production facility to ensure quality.

If you are willing to pay for an experienced designer with know-how, you will get what you pay for!


  1. How experience you are as a designer, and how many products you brought to market.

  2. Extend of your training, art school vs engineering based design courses

  3. How tech base is your product, ie futniture vs handphones.


Most experienced designers can and do a fair amount of mechanical design, not only esthetic. If the designer also has mfg and materials knowledge (enough to converse with production intelligently) and you don’t need stuff like FEA or stress analysis, heat transfer calculations and the like, a mech eng is a plus but likely not an absolute must.

It does not matter.

What matters is there is someone responsible for every step.

In most cases the moldflow is done by the moldmaker. It’s dependent on a lot of things, material, temperature, additives, gate location, runners, etc. Moldflow only gets you so far anyhow.

Finite element analysis really is for structural items like a structural frame for a all terrain vehicle. You don’t really need finite element analysis for a lot of things. Experience rules a lot here.

Underwriter’s Labs certification is a thick set books. If you use a lot of common sense you can pass it.

The only things really left is heat load and ventilation. In a lot of cases, if it’s not cool enough, they just crank up the fan speed and the specification on the noise level goes up. Thermal calculations are pretty rough too.

Nothing like prototypes.

As good industrial designers we should be open to gathering knowledge from anywhere and everywhere. Adding a Mech. Eng. is just good business and I would argue good design. The trick is finding engineers that respect ID and most importantly your design.